Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Joshua 6 and Origen's De Principiis: Book Two 9

Joshua 6 - The city of Jericho is under siege and the Lord instructs Joshua to have the Israelites circle the city for six days blowing seven ram’s horns.  On each of the six days, they shall march around once with the ark in procession, making no noise other than the blowing of the horns.  On the seventh day they are to march around seven times and then stop to raise a huge shout that will brings the walls crashing down.  The Jerusalem Bible note says there are two entangled traditions here, one of them bracketed in the JB text, but not in the NRSV text.  One has them circling in silence and then yelling.  The other has them circling behind the ark, blowing trumpets.

They are also warned that everything in the city is “under the ban” and they are to touch nothing.  Being “under the ban” means that everything living must be put to the sword and all the wealth of the city is to belong to the Lord.  The harlot Rehab, of course, and all those in her family inside her house, are to be escorted safely outside the city and the camp. She lives in Israel after this.  And Joshua places the destroyed city under a curse: “Cursed before the Lord be anyone who tries to rebuild this city” (6:26).

Eerdman’s Handbook suggests that the reason Jericho is completely destroyed is that it was a kind of “first-fruits” of the conquest and therefore God’s.  It also suggests that while there is, in fact, evidence of widespread destruction in the region dated to the 13th c. BC, there were other invaders and enemies of the local populations, among them Egypt (Pharaoh’s governors had residences in Gaza, Megiddo and other places were garrison towns (213). Other conquerors included the Philistines, who took over Ashdod, Ashelon, Ekron, Gath and Gaza.  These cities were all Late Bronze Age cities.

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Book II - On Christ
9 - Now Origen looks at the meaning of the words written in the Book of Wisdom where it says, “Wisdom . . . ‘is a kind of breath of the power of God, and the purest efflux of the glory of the Omnipotent, and the splendor of eternal light, and the spotless mirror of the working or power of God, and the image of His goodness.’” A modern translation of Wisdom 7:25-26 is this:  She is a breath of God's power—a pure and radiant stream of glory from the Almighty. Nothing that is defiled can ever steal its way into Wisdom. She is a reflection of eternal light, a perfect mirror of God's activity and goodness.” Origen will go into each part of this in great detail – more detail than I will.

“These, then are the definitions which he gives of God, pointing out by each one of them certain attributes which belong to the Wisdom of God, calling wisdom the power, and the glory, and the everlasting light, and the working, and the goodness of God.”

God’s power is seen in His strength; He “appoints, restrains, and governs all things visible and invisible.”

“Another power . . . which exists with properties of its own – a kind of breath, as Scripture says, of the primal and unbegotten power of God, deriving from Him its being, and never at any time non-existent.”

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